Brendan Rodgers was delighted to see dreams come true after a stunning goal from Youri Tielemans saw Leicester beat Chelsea at Wembley and win the FA Cup for the first time in their history.
It was a special day for Leicester as they battled to a tense win in front of some 21,000 supporters. Rodgers paid tribute to the club’s owner, Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha, whose father Vichai died in a helicopter crash in 2018, and praised his players for showing courage against a team as strong as Chelsea.
Leicester, who made history by winning the Premier League title five years ago, held on after a brilliant strike from Tielemans. They survived a late scare when Chelsea, who need to bounce back quickly to ensure they qualify for the Champions League, had an equaliser ruled out for offside following a VAR review and will hope to cap off a fine season by hanging on to their top four place.
“I’m very proud,” Rodgers said. “It’s a historic day for the club. Winning the FA Cup for the first time is clearly a special day. I’m so happy for the players and Khun Top [Aiyawatt’s nickname] and their family, it’s been a dream of theirs to win the FA Cup and we’ve delivered on that. It was an amazing goal by Youri and well deserved.
“Every trophy is special. I’m proud on a personal front to be the manager to win it for Leicester. On days like today you need to create history. We were able to do that. I’m extremely proud to get to the final and beat such an incredible club. I’ve got an overriding feeling of satisfaction that we did the job well. I’m more pleased for everyone else. The feeling it gives the supporters. The FA Cup is one the club really wanted to win.”
Leicester, who are third with two games left before visiting Chelsea in the league on Tuesday, have shown a talent for disrupting the big clubs and Rodgers, who moved to the King Power Stadium in 2019, challenged them to keep pushing after winning his first trophy in English football.
“When I came in my first challenge was could we have European football?” he said. “That means finishing top six. We did it last year and that will be the aim this year. If we could get a Champions League place that would be incredible. Success at Leicester is disrupting the big teams.”
Rodgers, who is the first British manager to lift the FA Cup since Harry Redknapp won it with Portsmouth in 2008, said it was brilliant to have supporters present. “That’s what the game is about - that connection between the players and supporters,” he said. “It felt there was way more than 20,000 supporters. People were maybe hoping from a neutral perspective that we could upset the odds. It was a fantastic atmosphere.”
Chelsea need to recover quickly. They are at risk of slipping out of the top four before facing Leicester and Aston Villa in their final two games and also face Manchester City in the Champions League final on 29 May. “There is nothing much to do,” Tuchel said. “We focus on performance. We will now talk about what we did good and what we can do better on Tuesday. Now it is about bouncing back. We missed a trophy and are very sad about it. We have another chance with two finals against Leicester and Villa.”
Chelsea felt that Leicester’s goal should have been ruled out, claiming that Ayoze Pérez used an arm to block a pass by Reece James in the buildup. “My assistant saw it on the bench,” Tuchel said. “The players said straight away that it was a handball. But I am not an expert in handball any more. You need luck in these decisions. My opinion is not relevant.”